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Creative industries generate wealth in young workforce December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Innovation, Research, WIRED, Workforce.
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At least, that’s what one Australian university researcher has found.

One in three of Australia’s young multimillionaires aged 40 or under made their fortunes in the “creative industries”, research shows. Among the older millionaires, only one in 10 were involved in creative pursuits.

“The pay-off for being a great designer or a great artist has never been better,” said Jason Potts, an economist at Queensland University of Technology. [Dr. Potts works for the Centre of Excllence for Creative Industries and Innovation.] “There are much greater opportunities today for people who follow their muses.”

BRW‘s Young Rich list for 2006 reveals 37 per cent of the 100 multimillionaires made their fortunes in the creative industries, which Dr Potts defines as architecture, advertising, art, fashion, film, publishing, software, entertainment, TV and video games. Sport, museum work and tourism are excluded. They toiled as entertainers (9 per cent), developing software (10 per cent), in fashion and design (11 per cent) and in new media (6 per cent).

Sarah-Jane Clarke, 32, who has made it to the BRW list as a co-founder of the fashion label sass & bide, said: “When we started we never thought about making money; a lot of creative people don’t. We wanted to create beautiful things.”

She said being part of a global market Australian designers could sell their products to the world, but “it’s more competitive”.

Dr Potts said: “It’s not enough just to go to art school. The huge rewards go to those who are exceptional. The difference today is that the Beatles, in terms of the fortune they made, were a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Now we turn these people out once every six months.”

Frankly, I find myself struggling to grasp with the implications of this information.

Articles like these make me take pause and consider if the workforce and economic development communities are missing the boat in their current placement of effort and funds. I acknowledge that entrepreneurism, the unstated parallel track for these young, creative, Australian millionaires, is a risky road to hoe. Those with authority over program design and fund allocation generally are risk averse – largely for political reasons. Who wants to be the person to say that they gambled the people’s money and lost?

At the same time, the upside potential of a success – creating new businesses and industries that could employ many, many people and support economies for years – is hard to overlook. That’s why I find programming like Indiana’s refocussed Career Majors Academy programming, with it’s new emphasis on entrepreneurism, so intriguing. But the same emphasis should be brought to bear on our existing workforce, not just our emerging workers.

With all the screening and prequalifying that we use to determine eligibility for programs, is there not some way that we could better identify these promising individuals – our collective diamonds in the rough – and assist them in obtaining the skills and resources necessary to take their dreams to the next level for the betterment of our society? Is that not as much in the public interest as helping an outsourced or downsized factory worker find new work? Surely, programs like WIRED or Indiana’s Strategic Skills Initiative have the potential to push workforce/economic development programming in this direction. Are there other examples that I am missing?

Thanks to Knowledgeland for unearthing this lead!

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